On the corner of Williams and Failing in northeast Portland, OR, a newly-restored double-decker bus gleams in the early afternoon sunlight. People walking to any of the nearby cafes and restaurants take out their iPhones and take pictures as they pass. “I have the greatest job in the world,” said the owner, Erin Sutherland, who restored the bus with the help of a few friends and converted it to a vintage shop, now called
The name comes from the bus model. It’s a 1965 Bristol Lodekka that Sutherland found and renovated with the help of her friends, ripping out chairs and scraping off wallpaper paste. When Sutherland lost her job six months ago, she found herself with a lot of time on her hands and an ingenious idea. Portland has a booming food cart industry, why not start a vintage dress cart? The idea meshed well with Sutherland’s other occupation as a member of the Portland 1930’s jazz band The Stolen Sweets. Now she can sell vintage clothes by day, and sing vintage music by night.
Sutherland spends half the week shopping for stock and the other half chit-chatting with customers as they navigate the bus interior, examining its many treasures. Sutherland manages to display a lot of items in a small space, from vintage magazines to silky sweaters. A dog snoozes outside in the grass while Sutherland prices some items on a restored bus bench. A girl from Brooklyn tries on a pair of white cowboy boots and hauls some dresses up the spiral staircase to the dressing room. Downstairs, her mother squeals, “I haven’t seen this book since I was a kid!” Which book is uncertain, but one thing is clear: Sometimes getting fired can be the best thing to ever happen to you.